I would consult with your insurance company right away so they can begin protecting your rights. The answer will likely depend on your local laws. Here in Nevada the analysis would be whether he was invited or not, whether his actions were reasonable (in opening the garage door), whether he had any indication there was a dog in the garage, whether the alternate access you talk about (walkway) was easily accessible or whether it was more difficult to reach, and whether he had been to your premises before and knew of the dog. There are obviously many other issues, but these would be the first questions I would want to know. My initial inclination is that you would NOT be responsible because the delivery guy's actions were unreasonable in opening the garage.
I don't think he was trespassing if that is what you mean. Whether you'd be on the hook for the bite, I don't think so either. But if you are sued turn the papers over to your insurance carrier and let them worry about it.
Doesn't appear he was trespassing but I would notify your homeowners insurance to investigate the incident.
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In New York, the owner is strictly liable for a dog that bites another if the owner knew or should have known of the dog's "vicious propensities." If your dog has not shown vicious propensities in the past, and you have never had problems with your dog doing anything dangerous to anyone else, the case is likely defensible.
Either way, you need to notify your insurance carrier so they can investigate and provide a defense in the event you are sued.
The author of this posting is a lawyer licensed to practice law in the State of New York. He specializes in litigation matters relating to personal injury, construction accidents, auto accidents, slip and fall, dog bite, contract litigation, property litigation, civil rights, ERISA, and Social Security matters in federal, state and local courts, with a focus on courts in Staten Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. This posting is intended as general information only, is not provided as legal advice in connection with any specific case, and should not be construed to create an attorney-client relationship. For more information about me, see http://www.avvo.com/attorneys/10314-ny-gaetano-parrinello-1897122.html?ref=header
You are strictly liable for a dog that has known or inferrable vicious propensities. Your pizza guy was an invitee, not a trespasser, at least initially. His "case" begins to deteriorate when he opened the garage door, which causes wrinkles. Fortunately, you promptly notified your home insurance carrier to avoid any disclaimer for late notice, and let them handle this. That's why you've been paying all those insurance premiums all those years!
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First, notify your homeowner's insurance carrier. They will handle the matter in your defense. As an aside, and solely based on your scenario, it would appear that there is a strong argument to be made that the delivery boy bears a significant percentage of culpability for this event. It is one thing for him to be attacked while on your property but in the open. It is another for him to enter inside a portion of the premises uninvited. In any event, this type of incident will be covered under your homeowner's policy.
I suggest you advise your homeowners insurance carrier about this incident.
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When you ordered the pizza you invited the delivery person to your home. I he or she wants sure what door was for the house then they can knock etc but they cannot just enter without being invited in. You are liable for your dog if the dog had a known vicious propensity. Why was the dog in the garage in the first place? Is this a guard dog or attack dog? If so, then it propensity is known and you may have a duty to warn of its presence. The facts o your question make it unlikely that the delivery person will succeed with a case. Notify your homeowners carrier.
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